And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. – James 3:18, NRSV
I would like to thank all of you for the wonderful welcome you have given Doreen and me as I have begun my ministry among you as your interim senior pastor. I am honored to have the privilege of meeting all of you and of ministering to and with you during this special time in the life of the Perinton Presbyterian Church family.
There are a couple of very special events coming up this October. The first is World Communion, which will be celebrated at both services on Sunday, October 1. Now observed by many denominations all over the globe, World Communion is a special gift of the American Presbyterian Church to the world church. Originally known as “World Wide Communion,” this special observance was conceived and promoted by the Rev. Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr in 1930 while he was moderator of the General Assembly. The first World Wide Communion service was held in 1933 in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Dr. Kerr served as the senior pastor. A brass marker set into the marble floor of the chancel of the Shadyside Church commemorates that first “official” World Wide Communion service.
1933 was a time of great anxiety, of fear about economics, fear about politics and fear about the future, with the Great Depression at its worst, and Nazism and Fascism engulfing Europe and threatening the entire world. The next step in the development of World Communion took place in the winter of 1935 when a group of Presbyterian ministers, Raymond Kistler, Charles T. Leber, and Arthur Limouze, gathered to study the spiritual needs and possibilities for ministry in these dark days. They, too, saw in the Lord’s Supper a great opportunity to unite church members in new dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ, and advocated that all Presbyterian churches celebrate one special Lord’s Supper each year, and encouraged all foreign missionaries and their congregations to also take part.
By 1936 World Wide Communion was celebrated on the first Sunday in October in many Presbyterian churches throughout the United States and overseas. After a few more years, the idea spread beyond the Presbyterian Church, as had been hoped and planned from the beginning. By 1940, the National Council of Churches recommended its observance to all of its member churches. Sometime later the World Council of Churches recommended this observance to all of its members, so that on the first Sunday of October each year Protestant Christians the world over celebrate the unity we have in our Lord Jesus Christ, “the only Savior and Lord” The name was changed to “World Communion” in the early 1990’s.
Today World Communion Sunday is observed by many participating denominations. As the National Council of Churches indicates, “The day has taken on new relevancy and depth of meaning in a world where globalization often has undermined peace and justice – and in a time when fear divides the peoples of God’s earth. On this day we celebrate our oneness in Christ, the Prince of Peace, in the midst of the world we are called to serve – a world ever more in need of peacemaking.”
The other special Sunday, Reformation Sunday, occurs at the end of this month on October 29. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the nailing of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” on the door of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany, on the eve of All Saint’s Day on October 31, 1517. The equivalent of posting a scathing critique on every form of social media today, Luther’s “Theses” questioned and criticized the sale of indulgences and many other perceived abuses, by Roman church officials. This brave and daring act is considered the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a movement that emphasizes salvation by grace through faith, which our Presbyterian Church traces its roots.
I look forward to getting to know you as we worship, serve and grow together in faith and grace in the months ahead.
Grace and Peace,